I love peas. So does my sister. She is not allowed in the vegetable patch unchaperoned during pea season because she will strip a plant faster than a flock of wood pigeons.L
ast year I grew three varieties: Sugar Bon which is a classic snap pea, Shiraz which is a purple mange tout variety and Golden Sweet which is a yellow mange tout.
Although they looked very anaemic the yellow ones were delicious. The purple ones looked lovely but were tougher and the purple colour leeched out on cooking. The snap peas are always my favourites because they have such a good crunch.
We grew them with pea sticks as supports and surrounded them with nasturtiums – I was going through a cottage garden phase and wanted to plant flowers among my vegetables. I think that was misguided because not only did the nasturtiums get smothered with black fly but also competed with the peas for water and nutrients. The peas also got too big for their supports and collapsed on each other in a messy tangle.
This year I am growing Sugar Bon and Golden Sweet again but this time I am trying pea netting up much taller bamboo canes. Pea netting is a confounded beast to tame. I spent ages getting more entwined in it and really did think that it had won when it lassoed me round the ankles and nearly sent me flying into the sprouting broccoli. I sowed my pea seeds early this year and hardened them off in the cold frames to acclimatise them well before planting them out.
I will be interested to see if it makes them any easier to harvest this way or whether they will get the better of me again!